Saudi-led coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched at kingdom

The incident comes only days after nine civilians were wounded in a drone attack on Abha airport

Col. Turki al-Malki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Huthi forces, listens during a press conference in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Friday, May 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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The Saudi-led military coalition has downed Houthi drones launched against targets in the kingdom, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Colonel Turki Al Malki said the coalition, which is fighting in support of the internationally recognised government of Yemen, destroyed the drones in the air before they could reach their targets.

A statement by the Saudi-led coalition said the drones had been launched by the Houthi rebels from Yemen’s capital city, Sanaa, but did not say where they had been intercepted.

“The drones were destroyed in air space,” a coalition statement said.

The coalition denied Houthi claims that the attacks had resulted in the suspension of air traffic at two Saudi Arabian airports near the country’s southern border with Yemen.

The Houthis' Al-Masirah satellite news channel had said the rebels attacked Saudi airports in Abha and Jizan with Qasef-2K drones.

The Houthis have increasingly used drones to target southern Saudi Arabia, including two recent strikes on Abha airport that killed one person and wounded more than 30.

The increase in Houthi attacks comes amid a stand-off between Iran, which backs the group in Yemen, and the United States.

In May, four commercials ship off the UAE coast were "subjected to sabotage operations" a week before a rocket landed near the US embassy in Baghdad. In June, attacks target two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, in which Iran denied any involvement, and Iran downs a US military surveillance drone.

The incidents have come as Tehran threatens to breach multiple clauses of the landmark nuclear agreement it signed with world powers. It reduced several of the commitments it is supposed to meet in the deal on the anniversary of the US withdrawal from the agreement in May last year.

In response to Iran-linked attacks, the US deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force and announced that it will bolster its military presence in the Middle East with an additional 1,500 troops.